Wolves can survive, says O'Neill

BY foxsports • March 19, 2010

Agbonlahor, who has netted 14 goals this season, has proved to be the scourge of Villa's Midlands rivals in recent derby clashes. The 23-year-old has netted in the last three meetings with Birmingham, both encounters with West Brom last season and in the 1-1 draw with Wolves at Molineux earlier this season. It is no wonder O'Neill is keeping his fingers crossed Agbonlahor recovers from the groin strain suffered during the latter stages of the midweek win at Wigan. O'Neill said: "Gabby has scored against Birmingham and Wolves this season and, if I'm not mistaken, did the same against West Brom last season. "He seems to enjoy scoring in the derby games and I'm hoping that he will be a lucky omen for us on Saturday. "But we'll just have to monitor how he is feeling. At the moment we've decided against a scan so that is encouraging." Victory for Villa will, for a few hours at least, put them level on points with fourth placed Tottenham in the race for a Champions League spot. But O'Neill believes Wolves will provide a stern test. He said: "I think the win at Burnley was so important psychologically to Wolves. I don't think anyone at Molineux could play that result down. "It was so important and will have given them a big lift going into this match. "I think they have the capabilities (to stay up). Before the Burnley game their performances, if not the results, over the last six or seven weeks had been good and will stand them in good stead. "This is a derby and we will have to work for every bit of space but I am hoping we will be prepared for that and it will come as no surprise to the players." O'Neill is aware of the strain Villa's current schedule could have on his players as they are in the middle of a run of five league games in 15 days. He added: "Our run-in has been made more difficult because of our exploits in the FA Cup because we're now having to play most midweeks. "We don't have the squad that the big teams carry. It's been a great testament to the players we've got here that they have kept going the way they have. "Who we are playing is not my main concern, it's about who is playing for us and the physical and mental shape we are in. "They've given everything and the season has been terrific. But these will be major tests ahead. There are obviously a few tired limbs. We'll have a look and see how tired people are and take it from there. "But I think we are the only unbeaten side in the Premier League this year, which is encouraging." If Agbonlahor fails to recover, Emile Heskey is likely to be recalled to the starting XI to partner John Carew. Meanwhile, Villa's home Premier League game with Everton has been put back four days to Wednesday, April 14 after it clashed with the FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea at Wembley on April 10. The away league meeting with Hull will now take place on Wednesday, April 21 having been originally postponed because of Villa's involvement in the Carling Cup final last month.

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